Jesus came to seek and save the lost, but not everyone was willing to come hear Him. So, one day Jesus came up with a clever way to draw a crowd. His plan was to get the largest assembly possible, grab their attention with something amazing, then slip in a gospel message. His big draw? An elephant painted pink. You can read the entire account in this paragraph, but you will not find it in the Bible.
Obviously, the above is stated with sarcasm. Just like Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal, so we are mocking those who will go to absurd ends to draw a crowd in the name of the Lord (1 Kgs. 18:27). For example, a denomination in the local area put out the following announcement.
What this reflects is desperation to get people to their building. It is wholly lacking in Biblical authority and makes a mockery of the religion of Christ.
Churches like this show they do not believe the simple presentation of the gospel is enough. Teaching men about a Savior who died for their sins, salvation and eternal life in heaven, is just not interesting enough to draw a crowd. So, they resort to the ridiculous.
This type of action is generally described as the “social gospel.” It actually started in the mid to late 1800s with churches getting involved in community service; helping the poor and hungry. In the mid to late 1900s it evolved into pizza parties, family life centers (gymnasiums and game rooms), dramas, concerts, raffles, and more. Now you can get a pony ride, pet a goat, and learn about snake venom in the name of Jesus.
How long will it be before a church gives a home? Oh, wait, that has been done.
Seriously, what is next?
Churches that do whatever it takes to draw a crowd, ignoring the Bible, will stop at nothing. Thus, we can expect strippers, mixed-martial-arts matches, and poker games as bait to lure people in.
Jesus never used gimmicks to attract people to His preaching. Some will cite the miracles of Christ as justification for petting zoos, car shows, or live bands.
People did follow Him because of His signs (Jn. 6:2). However, He did not use miracles to attract crowds. His miracles were to confirm the word (Heb. 2:3, 4; cf. Mk. 16:20). When the people wanted to see more miracles or wanted more food, He refused (Jn. 6:22-59). In fact, after the Lord preached some hard words to them, many stopped following Him (Jn. 6:60-66).
The religions of men have a serious problem ahead of them. With each new radical step, there is pressure to go further. A simple drama about the birth of Jesus is not exciting enough to get people in the door. Now you must have live animals, live bands, and pony rides. Eventually people will figure out it is all shallow and foolish, and they will stop coming. Or, the churches will simply cease to pretend to be a church and become a full-fledged entertainment and recreation company.
If you believe in the Bible and wish to respect the Lord, reject the social gospel and all its gimmicks. Stand firm for the religion of Christ as presented in the New Testament. Worship as the first-century Christians worshiped. Evangelize as they did. If you do, your worship will not be in vain, but to the glory of God (cf. Matt. 15:7-9).